Anthonysamy: Footballer, fighter, inspiration
Brother, nephew pay tribute to the late Anthonysamy
Former Singapore international S Anthonysamy died yesterday at the age of 51.
The former winger, who has been paralysed from the neck down after a freak injury suffered in a football match 20 years ago, had been admitted at the Singapore General Hospital over the last week due to a serious chest infection.
He passed away shortly before 5pm yesterday, surrounded by family and friends.
Speaking to The New Paper, brother S Pushpanathan, 53, said: "After all that happened to him, he was still so positive. He was always smiling, telling jokes and looking on the bright side of life.
"A lot of credit also has to go to his wife Keralin (Mary), who stood by him all the way and helped him through these 20 years."
ST FILE PHOTO
On Sept 3, 1996, tragedy struck when Anthonysamy turned out for Woodlands Wellington in a friendly against Malaysian side Selangor.
He came on as a substitute in the last 10 minutes and managed to conjure up an assist for the final goal in a 4-1 win.
Two minutes later, he was floored after a challenge with Selangor's Mubin Mokhtar, who landed with his full weight on the Singaporean player.
Anthonysamy fractured two vertebrae near his neck and was paralysed from the neck down.
Despite the tragic setback, Anthonysamy never gave up in his quest to live life to the fullest.
While understandably distraught yesterday, Puspanathan broke into a smile when asked to recount some of his favourite memories of his younger brother's on-field exploits.
"Back in the day, there was the Bogaars Cup between Safsa and Police, who had a very strong team.
"My brother was playing for Safsa and they were 2-0 down, until he scored two goals and laid on the assist for the winner.
"It was that night when I received a call at home from then-Singapore coach Seak Poh Leong, asking for Anthony to turn up for national team selection the next morning.
"I also remember one pre-Olympic qualifier against Japan, when he suffered an injury in training but played the full 90 minutes.
"He was the Man of the Match and the Japanese just couldn't catch him, which explains his nickname 'Speedy'."
Anthonysamy's nephew, Abdul Saleem, was among the relatives that were by his side in his final hours.
The 34-year-old, who Puspanathan revealed had been heavily involved in caring for Anthonysamy, had fond memories of their time together.
"He was a diehard Manchester United fan," said Saleem.
"A few years ago, I put him in my car and we drove all the way to Kuala Lumpur to watch United in action.
"The organisers knew him, so they gave us tickets and we even stayed on the same floor of the hotel as the United players.
"Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes both remembered him from a previous meeting and that really made his day.
"I will remember him as a fighter who never gave up and, despite all that happened to him, he was still so involved in his church and I believe his faith kept him alive for the past 20 years.
"Everyone looked up to him and he was such an inspiration.
"I always think to myself that if he can do all this with his life, why can't I?
"That's the one thing I learnt from him."
For the past 20 years, he lived his life to the fullest and was an inspiration to many people. Football mourns the loss of a great player but celebrates the life he led.
— Hougang United general manager Matthew Tay. The S.League club have raised more than $100,000 for Anthonysamy since 2012
Sundram recalls close friendship
The tributes flowed in for former Singapore international S Anthonysamy, who died yesterday.
The 51-year-old, who was paralysed from the neck down following a freak accident on the football field in 1996, passed away at the Singapore General Hospital (SGH) after falling seriously ill from a chest infection.
Among those mourning him was Singapore coach V Sundramoorthy, his former national teammate who also played alongside Anthonysamy (right) at clubs such as Safsa, Tampines, Sembawang and Woodlands.
While Sundram has been busy preparing the Lions for tonight's Causeway Challenge against arch rivals Malaysia at the National Stadium, he had visited Anthonysamy on Wednesday night and was there at SGH yesterday as well.
"We go a long way back and the one thing about him is that he's one of the nicest guys around," recounted an emotional Sundram.
"He was very down to earth and was always there to be counted on when you needed him.
"He was very jovial and lively among his friends and we're going to miss him.
"It's a very sad day for me because now I will remember him every year on my birthday," added the Lions coach, who turned 51 yesterday.
Explaining how their friendship blossomed during their playing days, Sundram said: "Especially when we were together during the Malaysia Cup days, we would travel and hang out together and he would often be at my place.
"Sometimes, he would even stay at my house and we would have meals together and even go out… These are the memories I have of him.
"When I heard the news after training (on Wednesday) and I knew he wasn't in a good condition, I had to come down to SGH to see him.
"At least having that couple of minutes with him is something I will cherish."
In a statement, the Football Association of Singapore said: "The Council, management and staff are deeply saddened. During his playing days, Anthony always played with boundless courage and tenacity and was a positive influence on the pitch. Off the field, Anthony demonstrated determination and optimism and had inspired many others around him.
"On behalf of the Singapore football fraternity, we extend our deepest condolences to Anthony's family. Our thoughts and prayers are with them during this difficult time."
Former Woodlands manager R Vengadasalam, who was also at the hospital when Anthonysamy died, remembered his former player both for his battling qualities and easygoing nature.
"He was a joyful person who was always singing songs and he was the livewire in the team," said Venga, who also recalled the fateful night that changed Anthonysamy's life.
"What happened 20 years ago was a tragedy and a very sad day.
"He was on the pitch for three minutes, had one shot which hit the bar and, the next minute, the injury happened.
"Yet, once he started to get better, there was an amazing light in him and he overcame his difficulties while always having a smile, with the help of his wife (Keralin Mary), who always stood by him and is a real angel.
"He was a real fighter too… Even the injury happened because he went in for a 50-50 ball.
"He was a battler on the pitch and that's how he was, even after the accident, and that's how I'll remember him."
- GABRIEL TAN
In his honour
The Football Association of Singapore said yesterday that the national players will wear black armbands and observe a one-minute silence before kick off in the Causeway Challenge against Malaysia at the National Stadium.